TED Conversations

mark johnson

CEO Life To The Brim, Inc, Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Retired

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Do we Ignore incarcerated men, women and juveniles or help Restore them back into community?

I am recent retired Department of Justice employee (Federal Bureau of Prisons)and Dream Coach. Part of my life's purpose is to Inspire, Impact, Empower and help Transfrom those in the space I occupy. Understanding that rehabilitation does not happen just by incarcerating a person, but actually takes place when the individual recognizes the need to change from the inside.

The likelihood of this happening is when (society) the institution create and provide programs for the inmate to participate in while incarcerated. Is such an idea grandiose? And if not what type of programs would cost effective and cognitively meaninful?

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    May 29 2012: Mark,
    If one believes that we are all connected, as I do, then to ignore any part of the whole, impacts the whole. Obviously, our correctional systems are not working very well. We continue to build bigger facilities and invest money in a system that we KNOW does not work. Now with the privitization of correctional facilities/prisons, the challenge is getting even worse. Making it a big business, is NOT serving those incarcerated. It simply serves the administrators. What is the motivation to rehabilitate offenders if it might put the administrators out of business???

    I would love to see correctional facilities turned into self sustaining villages, where offenders could learn skills to support themselves when released, and at the same time learn how to live peacefully in a society.

    I co-facilitated "cognitive self change" sessions in a facility, and there were 3 men who came to the sessions directly from the gardens, where they had been productively working in the sun and fresh air. They were in a totally different state of mind...more receptive...than the other 7 participants, and it was very apparent.

    This facility has a HUGE garden that started out as a tiny experiment several years ago. They now grow enough vegetables to supply the facility, as well as many non-profit organizations. In my perception, these kinds of programs are very cost effective and cognitively meaningful.

    If those incarcerated do not learn new life skills, they end up back in the same circumstances, which is not good for them as individuals, nor is it good for our communities. Are you familier with the Real Justice Program? Or the Programs which have evolved based on the book "Houses of Healing"? The Houses of Healing programs were used by a couple correctional facilities in the US, as requirements for early release. These books and training manuals are available on line, and very benificial in my perception.
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    May 22 2012: I agree with most of the comments that society does not give the ex-offender too many options. I believe that any program or services offered have to be long term - you can't do a paradigm shift in a year. Nurturing and encouraging relationships are key for youth as well as adults. Long term, positive relationships are what make impacts in our lives, all of us.
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      Jun 4 2012: I agree Hope...well said!
      Nothing is going to change quickly. I absolutely agree that nurturing and encouraging healthy relationships with young people at risk is a key factor. Mentoring programs have been very successful in changing the direction some young people are heading.

      We have a program called "Diversion" in this state, which is modeled after the "Real Justice" reparative/restoritive practices. It is a pre-court program, available to young first time offenders, and includes education, mentoring, community service, etc.
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    May 21 2012: I don't think we "ignore" incarcerated men, women and juveniles, I just think we sometimes use the wrong interventions. My experience in this field has shown my that there are a lot of dedicated and caring individuals who genuinely work hard to make a difference in people's lives. The issue with juveniles in particular is whether or not we are using interventions that are truly evidence-based. The research is pretty clear that incarceration alone does not have significant impact on crimonegenic behavior (it can actually increase it amongst low-risk youth). The most successful interventions are family and community-based interventions because they are more likely to address specific risk factors (Multi-Systemic Therapy, Family Functional Therapy, for instance). I think that the juvenile justice system in the U.S. is coming to realize this and has been moving towards these ends over the past several years (we are seeing the numbers of incarcerated youth decline) however progress has been slow at times. The U.S. justice system has largely been a retributive one for a long time, and the move towards more Restorative-types of interventions, while necessary, are sometimes difficult for people to accept because they don't come off as "tough on crime." It is imperative that organizations remain abreast of current research and come to realize that all of the money being spent on incarceration can better be spent on these more evidence-based interventions.
  • May 20 2012: I can only comment about what works in Australia for juvenile offenders. What we at the YMCA have have found to be important is support from business mentors while the offenders are in prison and contunued support and a structured program ( training, jobs etc) in the first 6 months after release. Above all else continued support from their mentor. This costs $20k per annum rather than $100k to incacerate young men. There have been some good suggestions in this discussion but I would add that our experience is that many young offenders want to change and with structured support it can happen. The key is the transition stage. So Heather in response to your post, I think the question is not more money but rather less money which is more sensibly applied
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      May 22 2012: Hi Sue,
      Rather than focussing on training cost, there is so much of joy watching them rehabilitate and contribute better to the society . Its just that in such cases Return of Investment will be very long . We also need to apply the same practice for senior offenders rather than treating them harshly in the jails..

      • May 22 2012: Bharath
        I agree with you about the joy of watching these young men turn around their lives. It's also wonderful to see the positive impact on their mentors as the too have learnt what it is like to help someone transform their life.
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      May 29 2012: Hi Sue, I almost missed your reply to me - click the reply button next to the name and your comment will appear under the thread you are responding to - also I would have received a notification that you'd replyed!

      Your project seems interesting at a cost and benefit level. In the UK our Minister of Justice, Ken Clarke, is considering alternatives to prison for sentences of 18 months and under since reoffending rates in this population is running at c. 70%! One of the reasons being the poor uptake of education and theraputic courses available to this group due to the lack of time to complete the course.

      Perhaps your projects experience could be used to support the probation service who oversee the reintegration of offenders.
      • May 29 2012: Hi Heather
        thanks for the tip - obviously I'm new to Ted conversations!. Our experience is a little different. A key is the role of the mentor and the realtionship with the young man. For many of them they talk about the fact that it is the first time that someone "showed me that they cared and that I was important". Happy to introduce the UK folk to our great team in Australia. The Y in the UK could potentially help to make this happen.
  • May 18 2012: I'm Chairman of YMCA Victoria in Australia. We are the worlds largest YMCA and for the past 5 years we have run the YMCA Bridge program for young offenders. The average re offending rate is 65% and in the Bridge program it drops to 3%. The annual cost for imprisoning a young offender is $100k a year and the cost on the Bridge program is $20k. We believe passionately that young people want to transform their lives and and the world and with support young offenders can as well.
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      May 29 2012: Hi Sue, In the UK the Minister for Justice (Ken Clarke) is looking at alternative provision for offenders who have been sentenced to terms of 18 months or less. Would you say your service could be an alternative to serving prison time?
  • Jun 5 2012: I've really enjoyed following this conversation over the past days. Just to add to it I've attached a post and radio interview on the YMCA Bridge program which is having a significant positive impact on the lives of young offenders. The recidivism rate has dropped from 66% to 3% for the 160 young offenders who have participated in the program and it costs $20k per offender compared to $100k to keep them in prison.
    So in response to your question Mark, we don't ignore because its better for them and better for our society.

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      Jun 5 2012: Looks like a great, very successful program Sue!
      It appears to be similar to the "Diversion" and "Reparative" programs we have in this area...based on restoritive practices.
      • Jun 6 2012: Thanks Colleen. I'm interested in your programs - can you send through some details.
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          Jun 6 2012: Hi Sue,
          Based on the information you supplied, it really sounds like you are using many of the same practices.

          The "Real Justice" information is available on line, as well as books, workshop materials, training opportunities, etc.

          Another book/program that I found very useful is "Houses of Healing" by Robin Casarjian..."A Prisoner's Guide to Inner Power And Freedom".

          Actually, this was introduced to me years ago by one of the inmates who happened to be reading it, at the time we were involved in another program. It's a great gift, in my perception, and used in at least a couple facilities as a requirement for parole.

          The book stands well alone as guidence for offenders, families, administrators, and anyone seeking to change destructive behaviors. There is also a workbook and educational materials which facilitate workshops....available on line.

          "Prisons are now dark places, Houses of Healing is a book that will open up a new vision for those who are in search of a brighter day. Grab hold of this opportunity"
          (Joe Corbett, former inmate, Northeast Correctional Center)

          "This is mandatory reading for anyone seeking to change destructive behavior. Using the suggestions in Houses of Healing, you can transform a negative lifestyle into a positive journey that excludes drugs, alcohol, violence, and (hopefully) prison".
          (Arnie King, inmate, Baystate Correctional Center)

          I found it helpful to use practices and ideas from both of these books/programs in all other programs I facilitated.
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          Jun 6 2012: Sue,
          Here are links to Vermont's Cognitive Self Change, Diversion and Reparative programs:


          And again...it appears that you are using many of the same practices in your programs:>)
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    Jun 5 2012: Exactly ... productive for whose benefit? I think the assumption is that the incarcerated are in that state for a good reason. I am convinced that most should not be in jails to start with. I have gained the conviction (no pun intended) that the notion of justice is a purely bourgeois notion and totally ignores that the majority of inmates come from an unprivileged background. Most of them seem to be condemned to exist at the bottom rung of society. So you will just restore them to a miserable condition. What is productivity anyway? Writing comments on TED? Pushing trolleys on a supermarket carpark?
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      Jun 5 2012: Productive for EVERYONE'S benefit Michael. I agree..."the incarcerated are in that state for a good reason". Their life experiences often taught them that violence, abuse and crime was the way to live life. I personally don't agree that "most of them seem to be condemned to exist at the bottom rung of society". I believe there are other choices, and I think/feel we need to continue to focus on more beneficial choices. I believe we are recognizing the backgrounds of offenders, and how it impacts all of us.

      Yes, writing comments on TED may be productive, depending on what a person's intention is...don't you think? "Productive" may mean different things to different people. To me, it means contributing respectfully, with good intent to our societies:>)
  • Jun 4 2012: As a society we absolutely ignore those who do not have money or resources to remove themselves from the long lasting effects of incarceration. Think of the environment that is provided to felons. We as humans tend to repeat out traumas. For us to take someone who is undoubtedly already imprisoned mentally by their inability to regulate their emotions and place them in a physical prison, is doing nothing more than exacerbating the underlying problem, by forcing them to return to primitive self preservative coping skills. I would also like to note the outlook and thought process that it takes to become a convicted felon. Wether it is due to drugs, abuse, or just overall brain disfunction the individual almost always harbors a nihilistic attitude that is used to justify hedonistic behavior. What do we as a society think is going to happen when they go to prison, surrounded by vastly similar outlooks and harsh treatment, people trying to change need something to live for. The vast majority of convicted felons dealt with family abuse as children, if our answer is to continue the abuse to correct behavior that can be directly attributed to the same type of abuse they received at a young age, then society just isn't thinking. The problem lies in that, there is such a condescending attitude towards people who have gotten in trouble with the law, nobody cares what happens to these people simply because "they deserved it". When this is examined you can start to see how the prison system in America directly reflects the average citizens view of his fellow countrymen. Other countries treat their prisoners far differently. I would also like to add that at this point we understand how the brain and personality forms. Wether it was due to genetics or environmental experiences that creates a criminal doesn't really matter because either way they didn't choose the brain or subjective experience they have had. The point Im making is more rehabilitation, less punishment.
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      Jun 5 2012: Hi Neighbor Brian! I'm just over the border in Vermont:>)
      I agree with your comments....especially... "more rehabilitation, less punishment". The environments many offenders grow up in, as you insightfully recognize, often do not encourage different choices. You're right...they didn't choose the experiences they had as children. One of the main focuses in the "cognitive self change" sessions I co-facilitated, was to let them know that we understand that they did not have choices as children, but as thinking/feeling adults, they DO have choices.

      They were often born into a cycle of violence, abuse and crime, so it was what they learn as children. They were often abused, and learned behaviors that are abusive to others...again repeating the same destructive cycles. More punishment is not going to change those behaviors, it is simply going to reinforce them.....I agree.

      I also agree that "other countries treat their prisoners far differently"...some better, some much worse.
      • Jun 5 2012: Hey Colleen, good to see someone close to home who cares about this issue. Unfortunately most people seem to be bogged down by daily life to ever open their eyes to the cycles of abuse which unfortunately seems to be continued. "More prisons more bars" seems to be the accepted answer to higher crime rates. There in the process of building another prison and another jail in New Hampshire. I also want to bring up Valley Street Jail, which houses all of Hillsboro County, not to long ago they had an addict detoxing,who was incarcerated on a charge for stealing video games. He died during withdrawal. I can't think of a much sadder way to die. Valley street is a privately owned jail and another privately owned jail is being considered in Manchester NH. I commend you for teaching cognitive change techniques, there need to be more people like yourself who have a humanistic view of the world. Empathy and compassion towards felons can sometimes be futile but nonetheless is seems to be the only rational response to people who have had little or no experience with another person who sees hope for them. I also agree with your statement that some countries treat their prisoners far better and far worse. I still hold onto the hope that as a society, we can see that those who have had less fortunate lives can be restored into productive members of society and not shunned into the underworld, which breeds the problems which they have been afflicted by. As adults we do have choices but only choices that exist to us, for you to bring concepts that allow for the prisoners to empower themselves by taking responsibility is awesome. Who is to say they would have ever thought of that, or had the state of mind to think that way. Keep fighting the good fight.
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          Jun 7 2012: Hey Brian:>)
          I agree...a lot of people are busy with life, and I also think/feel that many people don't know what to do about the continuous cycle of violence and abuse, so that holds people back from doing anything. One of my life philosophies, is...If I'm not part of the solution, I'm part of the problem.

          The privatization of our jails, prisons, correctional facilities and detention centers is NOT helping the situation. There is absolutely NO incentive to rehabilitate or restore offenders if the "business" is going to decrease the number of inmates in the facility.

          My father was a violent abusive man who never landed in jail because he was a law enforcement officer! He happened to be on the "right" side to avoid incarceration! I saw the impact his behavior had on his family, and on his own life experience, which is why I started volunteering to work with abused women and children. It was a natural step (in my perception) to also work with men who were incarcerated.

          I was interacting with an offender on a one-on-one program, and we seemed to be making progress. He was 32yo, and had been in and out of jail since he was 14. In our sessions, I was often reinforcing this idea of choices. One day, he looked at me kind of bewildered and asked..."why didn't anybody ever tell me this all these years"?

          Just when I felt that we had a HUGE break through, I showed up for our session one day and he was gone. At first, the administrators wouldn't give me any information about him...they were being rather secretive! I finally found out, he was transfered to another facility where they did not have the program we were having success with...a higher security facility, which means there were more higher level offenders!

          In the six years I volunteered with the dept. of corrections., I actually experienced more frustration with the administrators, than the offenders. The system IS NOT WORKING well, and until we change the paradigm, we will continue to get the same results!
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    Jun 3 2012: Unfortunatly this discussion is going to close soon, 3 days,... this has been an enjoyable opportunity do discuss and read other opionions about this issue. I have revisited the issue that became too much to bare.... an issue that has so effected the lives of others, but out of sight of those of us living the priviledged life... I am no better than any of them and yet my expereinces in life are so different... we all want the same thing, the opportunity to live up to our own personal potential and be apart of a bigger social collective. to fit in and be appreciated and loved. our society bars some from access to the same opportunites the rest of us take for granted... it is important to truly walk in the shoes of another to appreciate their difficulties and relize they want the same as the rest of us want.

    I have gained an appreciation for this opportunity and the TED world.

    I wish out of this we could in some way implement change... I hope to personally by utilizing my education and expereince to continue on the path I found myself on when I saw inside the world of those living right here in my community that expereinced life so differently.
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    May 30 2012: Having been very fortunate to have spent 2 years in maximum I can say with absolute certainty that to rehabilitate criminals by putting them all together in a prison system is not a very smart idea. Firstly, you are putting the states/countries best criminal minds together. This sharing experiences is a learning ground for how not to get caught next time. The other thing prison does is totally demean a person by taking their rights away. When you demean someone like that they are going to want revenge. Thirdly, there is just to much time on peoples hands. Also the system of politics within the prison system virtually makes it impossible to survive if you want to do the right thing. This is perpetrated by the very system which claims to rehabilitate. In essence you are brainwashing people to commit more crimes when they get out and this is backed by the reality of the situation and the statistics available.

    The ideas of creating programs while incarcerated is one good idea. One needs to look forward to a future and with the advent of finding meaningful work due to criminal history further diminishes hope and leads the perpetual cycle of crime through having opportunities available (through prison contacts and also through acquired knowledge)

    The best systems i have seen involve reflective therapy. They are where meaningful interactions take place by helping others. In other words giving the person the opportunity to make up for what they have done wrong. You can imprison a man all you want; you can torture him, you can demean him, make him wear a uniform and make him walk the line but you can never imprison his soul and it is up to him and him alone to make the decision of reformation.

    Those programs where you see older men warning youngsters about the dangers of a life of crime are an excellent example. I believe if you followed the statistical rate, you would find a lot of those men are less likely to be re-offenders compared to the general population.
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      May 31 2012: I support your first paragraph... but after that your argument follows what you think based on what you see... that is not based on the science that researches down the road what the outcome of those programs... there are some very good studies that show "Scared Straight" increases likelihood of going to prison... most of those young one already feel troubled and see going to prison as a badge of honor. some young men whose fathers are gone from their lives see going to prison as a way of getting to know their fathers. I delt with one young man who was greatly disapointed when he finally met his father. when we remove more that 3.2% out of a population we destabilize that population, the children in that population are growing up in that destablized environement... and we wonder why certain populations are more prone to trouble youths of gangs? the stats show what works. using programs that are based on scientifically supported policy we will continue to harm the lives of people like you.
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        Jun 1 2012: For sure, sorry... i only had a word limit. Everything you say 100% correct in my experiences. You have to understand, i have a deep intimate connection with what works because a lot of criminals are highly intelligent and can bypass system processes. In other words, they know the program and know how to evade in order to get reduced sentences. By being there inside the system you get to see a whole different story that no statistics can compensate for because the statistics are being meddled with. A man searching for his freedom will find ways. You can see this in some of the escape plots which are very sophisticated. I have never met such intelligent people and that is even after going to university for 4 years since my release.

        One thing i think we could talk about further is child abuse. Talking to people in prison and incidental in setting, one gets the distinct impression that almost every one suffered some form of child abuse. This can broken down into a number of areas. Men who were emotionally abused by mothers as children, generally fall into crimes against women such as rape and violence against partners. Men who were sexually abused by men as children are usually bank robbers, murderers and highly violent offenders (could be referred to as psychopaths). People who are psychologically tortured are usually drug addicts and mentally disturbed. Some people can handle these types of experiences and will not go to prison/commit overt crimes, but the personality types (usually very sensitive people) who do are the ones we are talking about.

        The key factor in all this is that the person who has been abused feels let down by society. Most kids are abused (of the non-sexual types of abuses) in public places. The child feels like there is a conspiracy against him when no one defends against the abuse. How many of you have seen a parent screaming at their kid in a shopping center and have done nothing about it? end of word limit. to be cont....
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        Jun 1 2012: So... the key factor, and i think we should stick to answering the question asked by Mark Johnston, is building trust again. I think dehumanizing someone as a punishment does little to build trust and trust is a two way street. However paradoxically, also you have to be real about who you are dealing with. Here is a case in point:

        I met one young person who was sexually abused by his uncle for a number of years. One day the boy defended himself and stabbed his uncle with a knife a number of times until he was dead. The abuse was not just sexual but also mental in that the boy was told that if he mentioned anything he would be physically harmed. The boy was found by police. The media did a story on how movies influenced him and everyone was happy to put the boy in jail for a very long time. He was put on remand in a prison system in which sexual abuse is rife and did not defend himself by making note of the sexual abuse for obvious reasons. From his perspective, social workers, layers, judges should be able to work the obvious out and of course he would be let down. This young boy would live in a system which society (including the media) had condemned him to. Is he going to have a healthy attitude towards society when he leaves?

        Another man who was put in for fraud and basically a greedy person on the other hand, learns that by becoming a Christian a judge would be more favorable for early release. While inside, he plans not to get caught next time. His plan involves taking a bank manager's family as hostage and chopping off the fingers of his wife over a mobile phone until the bank manager opened a vault. This man gets early release because he has become a born again Christian. He has played the game that suits people's ideas of what reality is. Sure enough within a year news reports come over that a bank manager was taken hostage in similar circumstances. Perhaps a coincidence? Maybe someone else picked up the idea? Who knows?
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        Jun 1 2012: The idea of creating a system where you you have an us against them system which is already perpetuated by personal experiences as children is a major stumbling block. Within the prison system is a rigid set of laws created by those inmates who have already been let down and the laws are much harsher than in society generally. If you dare speak publicly about plans or prison politics you will generally get a death sentence. This death sentence can be carries out by anyone and because people are trying to make a name for themselves, usually, is not hard to find.

        A lot of inmates found this law system better than the one offered outside because it is black and white. It is known. The law system is full of grey areas and you constantly see people with money evade justice or create it so justice favors them and their situation. The law has become very complicated and supports those that have money. The treatment of poor people in the US justice system really is a joke... further perpetuating distrust.

        Now the question being asked here is how do we restore these people back to society?
        It is not an easy question and has a number of problems. I believe everyone should work together on this. Social workers have great insight but often are taken advantage of. Prison guards probably have the best insight after prisoners themselves, however have worked with structures whereby its impossible to reform. Prisoners need to get over themselves and their past hurts and stop trying to hide it all by acting tough. It's their actions which create harm and they need to take responsibility. They need to make up for what they have done wrong and not just spending time in prison. They need to go out and help others.
        We all make mistakes and all mistakes can be rectified. There is not a crime which can not be made up for.

        So Mark johnston has a good goal. He is retired but yet still continues his mission to empower and to transform and i think that is a very valuable goal indeed.
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          Jun 1 2012: Jason,
          I agree with everything you write so clearly and well articulated. I'm wondering if you are doing anything within the justice/correctional systems at this time?

          Are you familier with the "Real Justice" program, which began in Australia? If so, what do you think about it?
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          Jun 1 2012: Yes all those things you noticed or discovered are true, and as I discovered while working in the prison a cmmon reality.... that is why I needed to find answers... I too went to school and studied the proble... no the stats do not lie... some stats are questionable but you can see that when you work with them.

          Yes a lot of inmates are quick to figure out the system. The system is deeply and inherently flayed.

          I do not know off hand aboout the real justice program, but it sounds like a retrebution based program and those do not hold a high incedence of overall success. the success in those is for the victim.

          we need to follow evidence based treatment. if we are not then we are just perpetrating a fraud on society and the inmates.

          Looking at the childhoods of thes men is often tragic. that is why the solution needs to look at a systemic or societal solution. It is a fact that living in the poorer neighborhoods tend to see more abuse. this is a no brainer, where people are under increased pressure to survive, this creates an environement at increased risk for all kinds of problems... this trickles down to the children. one study found that the children growing up in Watts, CA show a higher incendence of postramatic stress disorder than children in Bhagdad Iraq. So what do we expect out of those children when they grow up...

          The issues are complex and need shifts and major overhauls in many arias befor we will see the change that is neccesary.
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          Jun 1 2012: Edan East,
          I'm surprised you are not familier with the "Real Justice" program. It is actually a program facilitating restorative practices, and has been very successful throughout the world. It shows evidence of benefits for the victim, offender and the community.

          I served on the reparative board for years, also served as a mediator within the program, and we had many successes. The program is an alternative to jail time, takes into account the offender's background, the impact on the victim, their families and the community. Based on what you have written on this thread, it sounds like this program might satisfy your goals.

          Take a look...this link will link to several others, where you can find information about this program, contacts, calender of events/training sessions, books and workshop materials, etc. etc. etc.

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        Jun 2 2012: Regarding statistics: I left 1st year psychology because in my university at least, there was a culture of making statistics fit your agenda. I do not know whether this was because it was encouraged from the top down but certainly there were strong indications that this was so, especially where funding was concerned (ie. the agenda of the funding body whether commercial or government was pushed) However, the model of control studies is a great model and allows for anyone to replicate, discuss and reinterpret. So with great care and careful approach statistics is a valuable tool agreed.

        Colleen: Thank you. I am not or have ever worked in the Justice/correctional system. However, i have helped many people who are a part of the system, especially those who are post incarcerated. I suppose the best way to describe this is by coincidental meetings.

        What i represent is someone who doesn't fit the idea of what prisoners become. Not only did i not become a re offender, but i went to university and received high honors, started my own business and have been in control of multi thousands of dollars while maintaining very high levels of integrity. I have used the positive aspects of my experience to my advantage or converted the negative aspects into positive aspects. For instance, having faced many life threatening experiences where i was certain i was going to die, i can tolerate massive amounts of confusion and aggressive attacks without loosing my cool. I can be threatened with death and it doesn't phase me as much as it would someone else. I also learn valuable tools like the best way to get what you want to achieve is through patience.

        For me, I stand as an example and that is the strongest and most potent form of enabling change in others. I do this not because of societies merit but rather because of spiritual reasons. It doesn't seek instant results... it is a seed that is planted.
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          Jun 2 2012: Jason,
          I agree with you...there are OFTEN instances where people make statistics fit a particular agenda. Statistics are a valuable tool when used appropriately, and can be easily misused.

          I noticed, in one of your comments that you went to school after being incarcerated, and it seems that you have used your experience to learn, which is why I asked if you were involved with corrections now. You are very articulate, have learned some important life skills, and are a great example and role model for what CAN happen.
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          Jun 2 2012: Jason... you are a nice example of the enomily, it is also the unfortunate standard that is held up to measure the rest and give credence to the system when the system blame the offender for failure. However Good Job for you... Also you are in Australia and the society is different, believe it or not, it is.

          Yes statistics can be falsified, that is why it is imoprtant to know mre about the studies, which when you are reading a journal paper which gives all the info, theory/hypothisasis, ltierature review, methodology, conclusions, and limitations, the validity of the conclusions can be easily accertained. It is because of this "faking of Stats" that the research went in the direction it did for the past 40 years. in the 1970 Robert Martinsen wrote an article that was taken to say "Nothing Works" in corrections. He was interviewed on 60 minutes and at the time the right and the left wanted change and to further their agenda, Both sides used this to support the shift in corrections to a "Get Toough" agenda. Palmer, a leading researcher and university professor took this statment as a challenge, he wanted to find out if anything did work, if something did, then what, when and with whom. Martinsen having been caught up in his own ego and running on fame was ashamed of himself and discredited within the research community for not following scientific proticol and jumped out his aprtment window in front of his teenage son, to his own death.

          From that paper our correctional system shifted. prior to that shift from the 1915 when we started keeping records to 1970s the "rate" of incarceration remand about the same, fluctuating slightly following societal events such as wwII. then with that shift in policy the rate started to rise, from a rate of about 100/100,000 to the last stats of 968/100,000. that is an increase of about 1000%. now this was a get tough on crime agend and policy, and yet the crime rate did not go down...
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          Jun 2 2012: ... the prior population of about 100/100,000 pollows what we know to be true about any population, that sociopaths make up about 1% of the population, 100/100,000 is 1% of the population. We then were having trouble with the issue of how we were treating them, we followed a rehabilitative model. it worked some but not always. How we were treating them needed to be addressed because we were still following some prisoon models that were cruel and unusual. ... so we needed to find out what works when and with whom. Martinsen kicked it off inadvertantly, he was a sad victim of what happens when the media and politics get a hold of information and use it to further their agenda.

          Colleen... I do know restoritive justice models and know them to be just like what Jason said not something that works for everyone...

          The issue I hear the most is people thinking that they can ask someone that has gone through the system to know what works. That person may know what they beleive what worked for them but it is far more complecated than that..

          so what does work... with the most robust results is to follow evedence based practices, which this supports the rehabilitation model. then use a rehabilitation program that follows the Principles of Effective Intervention.

          Having said this, this is only one small part of the problem... this will just reduce the offender return rate, we also need to address policies wihtin society that set this up in the first place, like get tough, and three strikes law. Except sociopaths all people want to live a life of personal control and to be rewarded for a days work with a days pay. this is not happening in the USA. and I can tell when ever I hear of crime rates going up that there are issues of equity withing that society. Equity is the strongest indicator effecting homicide rates, highschool drop out rates, teen pregnancy rates, mortality rates, and a couple others. that is why Penilosa was able to effect the homicide rates by .....
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          Jun 2 2012: dedicating resources that benifited the poorest in his community.

          So the issue of do we ignor, yes on the one hand and no on the other...

          we ignor the many wrongly incarcerated that are truly victims of a society that allows for one man to be higher valued based on his worth in $,

          we do not ignor them once they have been there so they can never get out of the system, case in point, on one of the projects I worked on last year I was talking with a Parole Agent and an FBI agent and the PO said quite proudly that "Only one parolee has ever successfull gotten of her caseload and been released from parole" and of that one parolee, she took the credit for his success, but did not see the rest as her failure. As I have worked within the system and gone back to school and earned a BA and an MA, with honors in both, I have observed this attititude throughout the system. again we know what you are ost likely to do based on your 1st) Attitude, 2nd) Accociates, 3rd) Personality, 4th) History and so on, this is true of those oin the system too and as was seen so clearly in the Standford Prison experiment, we shift our moral compass to fit the role. Even Dr. Zimbardo failed to see the harm that was occuring, it was his girlfriend who showed up to she how things were going that saw the harm and told him he had to stop the experemnet.
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          Jun 2 2012: This is a very complex issue... however we do know what works, when and with whom, however too many in places of power are furthering their own agenda. I have seen so many politicans running for office claiming they will be tough on crime! Yet they fail to say tough on crime does not work...

          A foot note here, we do need to incarcerate the sociopaths... the Philip Gauridos and the Richard Allen Davis's... they are who the system is supposed to be for... we shifted a war on crime to a war on drugs to a war on poverty, not realizing we were targeting the people rather than the issue. we can stop poverty today by simply shifting how big business and corperations are allowed to victimize their workers. 30 years ago the average CEO made about 30 times what his average worker made, that was an equitable sharing of the fruits of the labor of all involved. today the average CEO makes about 300 times what his average worker is making, and that worker is expected to put out more product at a fster rate and to be higher quality.... We have marginalized so many and then we wonder why there are problems for those at the bottom...

          As I said this is a complex issue, but it is one with solutions... the opeple that get into positions of power need to be accountable for what they do...
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          Jun 2 2012: Edan East,
          You say..."Jason... you are a nice example of the enomily, it is also the unfortunate standard that is held up to measure the rest and give credence to the system..."

          There is nothing "unfortunate" about the standard Jason lives by, as he has expressed it here....there is NOTHING unfortunate about what he has done with his life, and to criticize it in that way is ridiculous. A person who has gone through the system is one of the BEST resources, in my opinion.

          First you said you were NOT familier with the Real Justice program, but it probably doesn't work anyway...now you say you "do know restoritive justice models". NOTHING works for everyone Edan, and in my perception, everything and anything is worth a try. You keep dismissing ideas and contradicting yourself right and left.

          You write..."So the issue of do we ignor, yes on the one hand and no on the other..."
          What exactly would you like to gain from this conversation?
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        Jun 2 2012: Regarding Real Justice... reading the website i realized i was actually a part of this when i was first ever caught doing something as a teenager. I am Australian.

        It must have been in the early 1980's.

        I think it was very embarrassing and i wasn't really ready for it.

        I think if it is given as a choice then it will be very effective and i think the key parameter is choice.

        If a judge imposes it as part of a sentence i think it can backfire.

        If the offender could have the ability to go off and state what they did wrong in their own time and draw their own conviction/punishment and how they were going to create restitution then i think it is a very potent tool. Obviously, there are a lot of problems to be overcome in such a situation. The program has probably matured well. I shall read more about it.

        Australia is an interesting case study because the government involvement is a lot stronger than the US. The Australian government traditionally is more of a mix between socialist and capitalist societies. We have a very strong social welfare system. We also have a history of criminality, being basically a prison state at inception. That is of course separate from the traditional owners who have inhabited the country for 40,000 years.

        A society i believe, should be judged not by the public relations campaigns they push but how they treat their weakest members. A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. Ironically that is also a criminal saying... " a lock is only as strong as its weakest point" another valuable lesson on security.

        At the end of the day, choice for reformation cannot be pushed. A society which has its long term interests at heart is patient. I think a key ingredient is on the one hand supporting those who want to make change and rectify their mistakes and on the other maintaining a strong hand of law on those who don't. It is here where a lot of problems arise and having people who are wise in positions to make decisions valuable.
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          Jun 2 2012: Jason,
          I realize you are from Australia...I looked at your profile:>) That is why I asked you if you are familier with the "Real Justice" program, which was starting to bloom in Australia in the 80s'.

          Not everyone IS ready for it, and it can be embarrassing because it encourages offenders to be accountable for their actions. If one is not ready to be accountable, the program is not effective.

          I agree with you regarding "choice". It is a choice here to a certain degree. The program is presented to appropriate candidates during the court proceedings, so it is a post court program. They have already been charged, and found guilty of the crime. Then the question is are they ready for this program? Or would it be better for them to serve time in jail? So, there IS a discussion, and ultimately, the program is court ordered if the offender seems appropriatly ready. If the program does not work for them, they still need to serve time.

          During the meetings with the reparative board (volunteer community members...we had one past offender on our board too) the offender, the victim, sometimes their families, friends, etc., have the opportunity to meet...when/if the victim chooses to participate. This gives the crime human faces. As you may know, often court proceedings involve the judge and attorneys, and the offender and victim are often left out of the loop altogether.

          All participating parties are part of the process to decide how the offender might pay restitution. What is s/he capable of? How do we integrate him/her back into the community? What educational programs might help? Community service? etc. etc. Two very common elements with most of the offenders I was involved with was GED (high school equivilency education) and community service, preferably somehow related to the crime.
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          Jun 2 2012: An example of the "Real Justice" program:
          An offender was driving under the influence (DUI), crashed into a town building and damaged town property.

          When he worked, he worked in construction, but he lost his licence to drive because of previous DUIs, often couldn't work because he had no transportation, or because he was drunk a lot of the time. It was a cycle...didn't work, drank because he was depressed, got into trouble because he was drunk...when he was drinking, got back into his car to go somewhere...more DUIs...on and on!

          Part of his agreement with the reparative board and the victim (the town) was to do community service by working on the town road crew, as well as physically repair the damage to the town building. It was close enough to his home, so he didn't need transportation, he got to repair the damage he had done, he apparently stopped drinking, made friends with the road crew, was a good worker, and when his community service was finished, they hired him!!! He stayed out of jail, was integrated back into the community, and apparently turned his life around.
          That is a win-win situation in my humble opinion:>)
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        Jun 2 2012: Just as a finishing note for background: I grew up in a single parent home in a poor neighborhood. I was the first person in my family's known history to go to university. My niece is studying law, my nephew architecture, another niece psychology.
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          Jun 2 2012: Kudos to you my friend:>) Sounds like you are a GREAT role model!!!
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        Jun 3 2012: I think edan east has some valuable contributions and i think it is worth while investigating the convergence of contradictions arising in this conversation without getting personal
        I think there are different levels. It reminds me of that song which has the following lines "any love is good love, so i took what i could get"

        One level is in the individual. That is a personal journey and it is what i hope to represent. The personal journey.

        The second level is in the current system in place and how people within that system can provide better aid to people. Which is what this thread is about.

        The third level is how society can change to improve the conditions of all it's people which is an angle Edan East is taking.

        I think every level is worthy of discussion.

        The thing is we are people who care and we are in a position to enact positive change.

        Don't worry about the one 1% who are psychopaths. Worry about the 1% who actually care.

        The United states has the highest population of prison inmates per population of anywhere in the world. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_pri_per_cap-crime-prisoners-per-capita

        This has to be an alarming statistic for a country which presents itself as the leader in the value of human liberty.



        I think all these levels need to be investigated for anyone who cares about human liberty.
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          Jun 3 2012: I agree Jason...all levels need to be addressed. It is interesting and sad that the US has the highest population of prison inmates. The "land of opportunity"...one of the most abundant countries in our world. We also have one of the highest rates of drug/alcohal dependency, one of the hightest suicide rates, and one of the highest rates of anti-depressant use and perscription drug abuse. What's wrong with this picture?

          I volunteered in the women/children's shelter, family center, advocate for kids in state custody, and the dept. of corrections. One thing I noticed, is that the same families are going through these programs generation after generation, falling through the cracks of programs/systems that are supposed to be supporting them with their challenges. We're seeing the same families, dealing with the same issues over and over again, which I believe to be one of the underlying causes for repeat offenders. If we, as a society keep repeating the same patterns, we cannot expect to have different results.

          That is what I like about the restoritive justice programs. It provides an opportunity to get to some of the underlying causes. I once had a mediation session with three felons...a mother, father and son....all serving time in the same facility....all in and out of jail for years...dependant on public assistance and the systems that failed them for years. The son was going through the reparative program as part of an early release agreement. I don't think the three of them had ever actually sat down together to talk about their situation.

          One of the first questions I asked an offender in programs I participated in is..."what were you thinking...what were you feeling when you committed the crime"?
          The answer was often....nothing....I wasn't thinking or feeling anything. That seems to be one element of the underlying cause...thinking, feeling, cause and effect, ramifications.
          They are disempowered and have lost touch with the idea that they have choices.
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          Jun 3 2012: Thank you Jason... you are getting what I am saying and have found some of the valuable statistics that I realized as I went through this educatioon process to search for an answer of why so many men were incarcerated that did not belong there.

          Colleen... you attack me and the information I post when it seems to be inconflict with what you beleive... I do not think it is sad that Jason turned his life around, I think it is sad when people look at a single individual and his unusual success and wonder why all the rest did not do as well.

          That is a big problem with our system. we blame the offender when he fails, yet it is the system that has failed him.

          this is a very complex issue and you are looking at it from a personal level. looking at individuals and their individual cases. I am looking at an over all solution that works for the magority of the population not just the enomily. That is what I ment by what I said.

          I care so deeply and was so moved by my experience of working in the prison that I went back to school and earnd a BA and an MA in an effort to, one find a solution and, two do something about it. My children are grown and so I can dedicate my life to this issue. This is my own "peace Corp" here in my own country for men that are living right now right here. I have watched the fall out of the failed programs that these men are promised are "The Answer" to their cicle of incarceration, and then when they go back to a community that is its self failing and with out hope and they return to the only thing they can and now are being watched by the system end up back incarcerated. The return to custody without a new charge is a large segment of the priosn population. This means men that did not commite another crime but were instead incarcerated for something that you and I could do and not be charged for.

          Colleen you look at this too personally and too individually... I discovered early on that I needed to step back and hold my personal experiences ..
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          Jun 3 2012: ...aside and look at this from an empiricle perspective... once I set aside anecdotal evidence I was better able to help those I cared about.

          I still remeber the individual enomilys from my time working in the prison... those were the unusual cases that stood out, but we can not all fall into the outliers... most fall into the center. Those ooutliers can make it without my help, it is the average the ones that do not get that rare expereince that needs the system to change.

          So as for why I discount the program you promote is because I know from an empiricly reviewed perspective that those help only a small segment of the population and those that they help is questionable because it is close to the same out come if left alone. I saw the research adn know the men that are the actual victims of our system when we enact or promote programs that "feel good' or look like they work" instead of programs based on evidence of what works.

          In other words Colleen all the programs that are not really working are doing harm... there is a lot of valid and reliable research that supports what woks, when and with whom...

          I understand you care and it is dificult to shift your beleif system on this, but that is the problem I face when trying to change the system and those that work in the system...

          but thank you for making me argue my point and go back in to the relm of this very disturbing reality... after I worked in that field and then studied that earning my degrees with honors and spending time living in the worst of the worst places here in the USA in order to expereince what so many of the men I worked with experience, I took time off to cry... and feel ... and think... and now I can look into what I can do and where my life will go next... I have this knowledge from both sides and need to do more... it is just such an uphill battle... you have no idea. I have advocated for change, but the people in the place that can enact change are stonewalls .... this is hard work
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          Jun 3 2012: However I remember vividly the man I was working with and he told me his stoory fo repeat incarceration and repeat programs that were going to "fix" him. He said after the first one when he was 17 and in priosn and thought this would be that change he needed so he could live up to his own beleif in his potential, failed, he begain to doubt whether he was fixible. By the time I knew him and he was doing "Life on the installment plan" he had completly given up on himself. This is the tragedy of those programs that work for the few and fail the rest... it is not the problem of the individual it is a problem with the program... the doctor does not blame you if his treatment fails 70% of the time. in the mix of treatment program and offender it is the program that is supposed to be the professional! Think about what that implys... based on informened and trained knowledge ... so when these programs fail they further victimize those already victimized... those that go to that "doctor" or program beleive they are getting help, but when change does not happen, they shift their beleif about themselves... The man I speak of said to me he is really good at crime and that is what God has shown him because nothing else works for him... this is the problem of the programs that do not opperate on evidence based practices... in some cases those programs INCREASED the return to crime in the people it was working with by 35%... so if those people would have been left alone they would have done beter that if they had gone to that program...

          Can an offender sue or hold accountable a program if it fails to deliver on its promise? It should be! Mostly the tax payers pay for this and those being treated are the tragic victims...

          So yes Colleen I do have a strong opion about this, because I have looked at it from all angles and been open to gaining information from valid and reliable sorces that fit with what I could see to be true...
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          Jun 3 2012: and I shifted my beleifs but held on to my humanity. I cared about all, not just the successes... as for the man I spoke of... he is now 32 and in prison for a further crime, he has gone through 5 different programs... he is what is typical of this system... his first program was a restoritive justice program, it was working for the forestry service, but when he returned to Watts at 20 years old with a criminal history, even though he was 16 when he got in trouble and was with a trusted adult from his community he could not get a job, especially in a community that doesnot have jobs... and as an african american male he was aced out of getting a job outside his community...

          Trust me Colleen this system is failing so many, yet we have the answer... but to have so many well intentioned in the way as well as the illintentioned becomes a huge weight that at times feels overwelming... I want programs that succeed 70% of the time or better, not fail 70% of the time and then claim it is the fault of the marginalized without npower in our society.
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          Jun 3 2012: Dear Edan East,
          Sorry you feel attacked. I am genuinely interested in what you write, agree with much of it, and do not feel that most of your concern or goals are in conflict with mine at all.

          I think it is GREAT to look at an individual, recognize and acknowledge his/her accomplishments. On that, apparently, we disagree. You are right...I am indeed looking at individual cases because it is as you say...everyone is not the same...everyone may not change. I focus on the ones who DO change, and believe they make wonderful role models for others who are often in the process of change as well.

          As I said in another comment, we had a past offender on the Reperative Board I served on. He was a GREAT asset to the process. We hear about one success story here on this thread. I have seen many successes, and that is what I focus on. Every journey starts with a single step, and it is the small successes that will add up to larger successes...in my opinion. You seem to want to say that does not work, and that's ok...I respect your perception.

          I trust that you are sincere in your quest, and so am I. We apparently have different perceptions, and that is ok.
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        Jun 3 2012: I have to say also, the real justice program may have influenced me later without realizing it.

        Secondly, without the support of people who work in the system who had the ability to give me humanity, i can not say i would have survived. It is these people who hold society up. Not the system. So keep up your good work even when you can't see the changes happening. :) Keep believing that most human beings are actually good when given a chance.

        "Be the change you wish to see in the world" -ghandi
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    May 30 2012: In the USA the correctional systems are not the issue, its the laws which have been created and subsequently fill them up which is one serious problem. From my perspective and experience from friends in criminal law and police force would suggest education is one key ingredient often ignored. To ignore "people", (people, not resources, not inmates and not carbon units) is simply not acceptable. Will you and others impact everyone, likely not. I do suggest the most serious people you have had dealings with lack a few very basic characteristics: Sefl esteem, self confidence, and anger management. I have no stats but would bet most to a high percentage have never had much of a chance considering a poor role model and parenting skills to develop skills many of us take for granted.
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      May 31 2012: I have worked extensively with this population and they do NOT lack self esteem... they need all those skills often but they do need polices that support everyone in the community having the same opportunity..
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        May 31 2012: Fair enough. I would be interested in what policies would be needed and how you would implement these so, as you said "everyone in the community has the same opportunity". Aren't the policies already in place through education programs, sports, arts, etc at a young age, which in turn determines the opportunity?
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          Jun 1 2012: No they are not! It is a nice myth that our system is fair and equitible. it is not. The USA is the most in-equitible countries of all the western nations and more in-equitible than many thirdworld nations. When measured we find that equality in a society effects many aspects of that society.

          So I would change many policies. this is not a simple answer. It is complex. But sufice it to say the changes would have to be both micro, or to help the individual cahnge, and macro to help society change.

          Yes I know what those changes are, for the individual we need to follow evidence based practices, such as the following the Principles of Effective Interevention, which utilizes the principles following social learning theory because it shows the most robust findings and has an increased success rate of 35%. That was the strongest level of success of any of the programs.

          Then on the societial level the policy shifts would be toward people, away from corperations and individuals. This is not any quick study that I can say in a few lines all the complexities of it but I can say there are many studies that support and back my perspective. and there are many case studies where other countries have turned around these same issues. One very important one is Enrigue Penilosa, He was Mayor of Bogata Colombia from 1999 to 2002. He chose to dedicate resources to benifit the people and specifically the poorest people in his city and one of the outcomes of this decision was a 70% drop in the homicide rate. Bogata at that time prior to Penilosa taking office was the highest in the world. so by a shift in policy that benifited the people that had the highest needs he changed another aspect of his city, crime.

          Like I have said it is complex. I went back to school and went as far as earning a masters degree studying these issues. I was fortunate enough to have some great Professors, one in particluar that has been instremental in helping me sort out the issues.
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      May 31 2012: James,
      In my perception, lack of education, self esteem, self confidence, poor role models, poor parenting skills, and anger management are some very common factors that contribute to the lives of those incarcerated.

      Edan East,
      You say those incarcerated "do NOT lack self esteem"? Honestly? Are you serious? That seems like pretty common knowledge.

      Approx. 95% of those incarcerated are drug and/or alcohal dependant. Do you think/feel it is confident, content people who depend on a substance, often ignoring all other things and people in their life to obtain the substance? Do you think/feel it is people who have high self esteem who repeat the same patterns over and over again, which lands them in jail?

      Many of the incarcerated men I worked with adopted a tough guy persona, and that often happens as a defense mechanism. A majority of those incarcerated have also been physically, emotionally, sexually abused as children, so they create this tough guy persona. Perhaps that is what you observed Edan East?
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        May 31 2012: Hi Colleen, I believe your comments are bang on and I appreciate your insight. I do acknowledge we all have self esteem, even those which Edan deals with on a daily basis. However, I would suggest this self esteem is misinterpreted and is a defense mechanism for misfortunes along the way.
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          Jun 1 2012: Self esteem is not the isue for men in the prisons, they often have high self esteem and that is why coming out of their communities they choose to do the bold and brazen crimes they get caught for... High self- esteem! If it were just self esteem it would be an easy fix, but that is not the issue. But that would be nice if it were that easy.
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          Jun 2 2012: Thanks James,
          I agree James...tough personas are often misinterpreted as confidence or high self esteem, which, off course is the purpose of adopting those characteristics.

          People with genuine confidence and self esteem do not prey on other people. They do not abuse and violate the rights of others. People with genuine self esteem live in peace and harmony in the community.
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        Jun 3 2012: Colleen I am sorry so many beleive selfesteem is such a key aspect to their change. but no I know the tough guy personnas many put on... but I also know from bith expereince and research findings that these men do not lack in self esteem. with in the communites they come from they develop levells of esteem based on their environment... you may be misinterpreting this as false self prmotion, but in fact is what esteems them.

        but again I will saw what is found to be the most important indicator of criminogenic behavior and an indicator of their future is 1) Attitude, 2) Associates, 3) personality, 4) History, 5)skill/eductaion, 6) Family, and last.7)addiction.

        so change the attitude and change the peron. change the associates and you often change the attitude, address the personality issue, ie. sociopath or other mental illness issues and you see whether change can take place, of course look at the history of anyone and I can tell you what they are more likely to do when faced with similar curcumstances... those first 4 are the most important... the rest job/education family and addiction play a smaller role, as in they can tell you of further isssues they may need to deal with, such as going home to a family of drug addicted gang bangers in a community with no jobs and education is poor.

        This is not an issue that is solved by those who work in the field following what "they think" works or what "they beleive" works... it is solved by taking all the data we have and doing a meta analysis with that data and seeing what works with whom and when and then implementing that and following the outcome to make sure we are staying on target and getting the results we desire.

        Colleen you seem so nicce and that is why you are probably blinded by your feelings on a personal level. We all have a shifting self esteem, but when measuered and when used as the indicater of treatment, they found it does ot work, because You are telling men where their self esteem is...
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          Jun 3 2012: Dear Edan East,
          You seem to like "stats", so if you look at some statistics, you might discover that it is pretty common knowledge that people who are incarcerated often lack self esteem. If you want to feel "sorry" about those facts, so be it. I agree that attitude, associates, personality, history, skill/education, family and addictions are factors, which often influence self esteem.
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        Jun 3 2012: that is arogant and fails on the first level of not bringoing your own standards when working with other populations... One with low self esteem would not have the attitude that they can perpetrate teh crimes they do and get away with it, or that they deserve and it is owed to them for them to committe their particulare crime.

        so... set aside your own personal social beleifs and take another look...
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          Jun 3 2012: I've been looking at this for many years Edan East, including the "stats". I have also been involved with offenders and the process for years. Thanks for the advice anyway:>)
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    May 29 2012: We can not ignore no one ! Helping someone that's want to help him or herself, is much easer. Find inmates that really want to do the change, and use them as an example, and have them others that want to help themselves too!

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      May 29 2012: Hello Goddess Mireille:>)
      I agree...first we need to empower them to WANT to change. When I say empower them, I mean genuinely empower...not the power that they think they have. This program I speak of..."Houses of Healing", is "A Prisoner's Guide To Inner Power And Freedom"......genuine power....genuine freedom:>)

      Hope things are good in the big city:>)
      Peace to you my friend....always...all ways:>)
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        May 30 2012: Hello Super Superstar Colleen!! Just love reading you!!

        Wow, I love this " A Prisoner Guide To Inner Power AndFreedom", great job!!

        Big city is looking great, have a blast and getting sexy and hot for this summer!! Can you blame ? Guilty as charge!!

        Love always...all ways!!
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    May 29 2012: My point was that your so called criminal justice system isn't just at all as long as it incarcerates non-criminals and that is exactly what the non-violent drug offenders are. They have no victims. They shouldn't even be there and the department of justice and the department of corrections are the criminals in each of the cases that they incarcerate people who have committed no crime agaisnt any one else, maybe you could solve some of your monumental problem if over half the budget wasn't wasted on locking up people who are not criminals.
    perhaps you could enlighten me with the true understanding of the drug offendersand tell me who, how why, when and where they have created any victims by putting something into their own mouth and body....
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      May 29 2012: I am assuming you are from one of the "western nations" ... the judicial system follows two tracks for crime... and what constitutes a crime, one is mala in se and the other is mala prohibita... no matter what you personally beleive to be criminal or not this country, (the USA) utilizes those two systems to indicate and define crime. if you break any law, whether mala in se or mala prohibita it is still a crime.

      To clearify this mala in se is a crime that on it face is obviouly a crime... such as murder, assualt, rape. This is not the same in all countries. in some countries rape is not defined as a crime and in some societies murder is the indivuals right.

      Mala Prohibita are crimes that based on the societies normative values are writen into the laws as a crime and their by punishable based on the laws of the day. this too varies, discharging a fire arm in a public place is not always a crime and driving while intoxicated varies greatly, as does legal age of drinking, driving and marriage.

      So Tim my point is that until we as citizens truly understand what our perspective state or country is doing in our names and we lobby for change we will continue to follow policys that may be "criminal" to individuals like you and I.
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      Jun 4 2012: Good point Tim,
      I believe many of the non-violent people who are incarcerated, could be doing communitty service, or repaying their debt to society in a different way other than jail time.

      Regarding drug offenses...
      You say..." tell me who, how why, when and where they have created any victims by putting something into their own mouth and body.... "

      In my experience with corrections, I have never seen anyone incarcerated for "using". In this area, and I think this is true throughout the country, there are LOTS of users. The authorities and courts here do not spend time or energy charging or convicting "users". The charge which gets people incarcerated is usually "possession", or transporting across state/country lines. Depending on how much they are in possession of, and/or moving and distributing, is the factor which determines how much time they are incarcerated.

      Authorities here, in general, are arresting the importers/suppliers/dealers, and that happens only after a very long investigation that provides proof that they are importers/suppliers/dealers of very large amounts of drugs.

      In this case, there ARE victims in my perception. Young children are introduced to drugs every single moment. We've had quite a few deaths from overdoses, and sometimes the drugs that are sold are "cut" with substances that cause harm to the user.

      If you've read my other posts on this thread, you will know that I am not in favor of incarceration in the system we have now. I would LOVE to see jails/prisons/correctional facilities be self sustaining villages, where offenders could learn life skills, so they can support themselves, and be contributing members of society when released.

      I totally agree with your statement in another comment.... "if their behavior and conduct is worhty then get them out of the violence that our prisons are and get them to the half-way house where they can live...under supervision".
  • May 28 2012: I am told that the science has been done. Effective means of rehabilitation have been tested and proved out. Great! One enormous hurdle overcome. Now all we have to do is convince self-interested bureaucrats to do the right thing and implement those practices. It's still almost entirely a question of will rather than resources and, sadly, politicians of every stripe have shown a pronounced lack of that.

    What we're really in need of here goes far beyond this one issue. We need to find a way to reclaim a democracy that has been co-opted by narrow self-interests and which is more responsive to cash than it is to principles and efficacy. That includes both sides of the spectrum which protect entrenched, failed programs as a means of fund raising. So far, campaign finance reform seems to be the best starting place. So if we can find a way to get that done, then rehabilitating prisoners is only one of many areas where we can make progress. Thank you for helping me to refine my thinking. I think my position now would be that it makes no sense to allocate more resources to an entrenched group which has a demonstrably negative track record and an unwillingness to implement meaningful change.
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      May 29 2012: You are on to the major issue in this problem... Politicians that use the fear of the poor to focus our attention away from the real issues of equitible dispersment of public resources.

      We have lobbies that work for the Prison guard union, and for the private prison industry... but who will lobby for the incarcerated or the poor neighborhoods?

      Our politicians should be "ASHAMED" of themselves!!!!!!!
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      May 28 2012: That is multifacited... to address simply the addiction or assuming all addictions stem from the same place is lacking in true understanding....

      I concure with you in the futility of the coffee pounding self help groups, the stats on those show an increase likihood to return to the behavior...

      I am surprised though that you as a social scientist would, one discount research studies and two assume that it is based on question and answer or snowball studies. the data collection that went in to this is based on years!!!!!! (40) of research. this research covers the gamet of all forms of data collection including a very highly regarded Meta Analysis (I was just trying to find that article but am not finding it, I would like to give you the name of the researcher) This is solid and developing and can be viewed if you Google search the names I mentioned...

      The problem with your expereince with your addict friends is that they are your addict frineds... it becomes very difficult to seperate out what you are hearing from them and what you are observing first hand. I often deal with this with people in my personal life, but then I have to realise that the information still fits them...

      It is very complex and is based on understanding many of the social science theorys and which of those theories have the most robust results in their results.

      When we follow good science we do see change and it doesnt take "hitting bottom" or the addict or the criminal understanding why they are doing what they do... it is in us professionals following what is supported by science and continuously check our methods that they are still getting the desired results
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    May 20 2012: To provide practical skills training, emotional therapy, artistic and creative inspiration and hope to those who are serving time is a duty of the prison service - however, "you can only lead a horse to water - you can't make it drink". You can only hope (and trust in the police and probation services) that once released they won't revert to their old ways.

    The problem is time and money. Ironically, the longer the period of incarceration the better chance of rehibilitation. Short periods of jail time end up being school time for criminal contacts, jobs and skills. As for money and resources - jail is expensive enough without training, education and therapy on top - so it's a political decision as tax payers foot the bill. Are we willing to pay higher taxes to pay for more and better quality rehibilitation or not?
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      May 22 2012: Well Heather,
      I dont know how jails work in abroad. But the way hollywood potrays prison is like they are given some free time to walk around the campus. How about utilizing this free time in Yogas and other spiritual activities which will eventually help the offenders find their lost soul ...
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        May 28 2012: Hi Bharath,

        I don't work in the prison service, but my response is based on my knowledge of the UK prison service and sentencing policy. As a Quaker I have contact with several Prison Chaplains (from many faiths) who serve the spiritual needs of those incarcerated.
        From what they tell me, it is mainly those serving terms of three years or longer who make use of prison spiritual support, therapy and the training and education available to them. This is mainly due to the fact that in the UK inmates can earn time off their sentence “for good behaviour”, so for terms of a year they may only serve 8 or 9 months - too short a period of time to undertake significant education or therapy etc. In the UK 90% of those sentenced in 2011 had previously offended - c.70% for crimes with a low time tariff.
        The Minister for Justice is currently considering providing an alternative provision than prison for those sentenced to terms of 18 months or less. This is due to research which has shown that the therapy, education and skills privision provided to all inmates are less effective due to a lower uptake for those serving short sentences.
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          May 29 2012: Well Heather, diagnosis and providing of spiritual therapy is possible within 8 months time ..Very few prisons in India have that facility and the convicts come from such poor family background here that they prefer staying in those prisons(since good food too is taken care of)..
          On a serious note , we must make sure we give them the spiritual therapy and give them some classes on how to earn and learn rather than spoon feeding them with every thing..Because tomorrow they should be in a position to lead their own life
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        May 29 2012: Hi again, Perhaps this spiritual therapy could be the alternative the Minister of Justice is seeking for sentences under 18 months - however, the UK population is very different from the Indian one as regards spirituality. Most of the prison population are damaged people with few skills and a non-existant regard, or even a hostile attidude towards spiritual matters. They are often addicted to drugs such as crack or booze which makes them unpredictable. I'm not saying they are beyong all hope, but as I said "You can only lead a horse to water."
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      May 28 2012: You unfortunatly do not have your facts straight... A very important meta anylysis found that shorter sentances as apposed to longer sentance work better. This makes sence, the longer a person is out of society the more difficult the return to society and the longer time a person spends in the incarcerated setting the more their attitude is aeffected, especially in the institutions that do not effect positive pro-social behaivor standards on their correctional officers.

      As for hollywood image of prison it is often very distroted. I worked in a prison and spent a lot of time touring and working with other prisons. I hold degrees in Criminal Justice and can tell you here in the United States the sentence is "Time" that is it and the time the spend standing sround with nothing to do is excruciating to many of those incarcerated, especially those with longer sentances. Think about it... if you had to serve 10 years... each day becomes an eternaty... even for those with short sentances such a year or two... each day is an eternaty. the men in the institutions I worked with beg for a job or education... they would often sign up repetedly for programs just to break up the tedium and hope to find the magic bullit that would change them for the better. There is effective treatment stratagies that are in the long run far more cost effective, it is just the problem of getting those that effect policy to follow what works as apposed to what is being lobbied for by special interests.
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        May 29 2012: Good grief, US prison's sound like torture. I don't doubt that under the conditions you describe short sentence inmates do better then longer sentenced inmates!

        Its interesting that in the UK for the first time the number of released long term prisioners who reoffend has begun to increase. The data for 2011 shows that just under a third of reoffenders have served long sentences - this is an increase of 13% and comes at a time when the prison service budget for education, therapy etc is being reduced due to the austerity cuts.
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          May 29 2012: This is so sad... The common held understanding of prison and inmates is so far from reality and yet all those men, women and children are serving time "in the name of the People of their State, or Country"

          What I discribed does not even come close to what they endure... A person serving time "will never be the same!" Just working in the prisons or visiting prisoners will effect any caring feeling individual... yet we find it so easy to vilify and distort the reality of who 90% of the inmates are....

          There is a need for incarceration, but our country, the USA, has distorted that use starting back in the mid 1970s and has yet to correct it. If you read the articles published in the professional journals for the field of criminal justice and specifically corrections you will find that those that know from an educated perspective are appaled there are multiple articles about "Professional Quackery" and "Institutional Harm". this is more the case than the exception. The problem is that those in the field, such as law enforcement and correctional staff do not see it from an educated informed perspective but rather from an anicdotale perspective. I have heard from many correctional officers, (COs) statements like "if their lips are moving they are lying..." how can an inmate in that type of environment protect himself, advocate for his rights, or find the respect that is fundimental to pro-social behavior, and something we all take for granted. Until you have your rights taken away you have no idea what it is like.

          A very good author and informened person to read is John Irwin, he served a 10 year sentence in the state of california, then after release became a PhD scholar the taught and researched at UC Irvine. There are many others that write from well positioned perspectives such as Paul Gendreau of Canada. His father was a psychiatrist to the prison system he became a PhD in either Psyc or Soc and was in charge of the priosn system he was one of the early researc
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          May 29 2012: Sorry... researchers... These scholars are not following the bias that is so easy to develop as was seen in the now famous Standford Prison Experement... That is classic and just exactly what I saw as en employee working in the prison. I went through some of the ethical and moral shift when I first arrived, but then realised that this was not what I was expecting, these were not sociopaths... these were disenfranchised men that were abjectly failed by our system, from birth to incarceration... this is not just an issue of corrections or law enforcement... this is an issue of this country, (the USA) systematically failing the minorities and especially the African Americans. (before anyone assumes, I am not male or African American or from a poor background, I lived a life of privildge that lead me to believe that it was as easy for everyone as it was for me, so if they were failing it was their fault, they needed to try harder... This is so far from the truth... But as a professor of mine once pointed out there is a lot in front of our eyes we do not even see, in order to see something we need to have seen it before and labeled it or given it a name. This issue is so complex I dedicated my life to understanding this in hopes of saving those I met while working in the prison, they do not understand what went wrong in their lives, they often blaim themselves, but it is not that simple and those who think it is continues the abuse of power to do harm in the name of the people of the jurisdiction. We need to hold public officials accountable for their jobs to serve the people of their elected district. but we don't, a public officail should follow the available research that indicates the best interests of all involved. This serves NO ONE! NO ONE! I have done the math from all angels and it serves NO ONE!)
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    May 19 2012: And clearly creating private prisons has increased arrest and incarceration levels at a ludicrous rate. We cannot and must not, allow anyone to profit from taking away the freedom and liberty of human beings.
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    May 19 2012: It seems clear to me that by abandoning the future's of incarcerated men and women, we are destined to create those futures for their children, continuing the generation cycle of incarceration. Drug rehabilitation is of paramount importance, since it is the primary reason mother's go to prison and it is also the primary reason men and women fail their probation terms and re-enter the prison population. But besides helping those who are already incarcerated and released, we must create better prevention systems so this problem doesn't occur in the first place. Drug rehab programs across the United States are already over capacity, most reserve beds specifically for those who are already facing criminal charges for drug related crime, and the rest of the spots are reserved on the basis of insurance quality and other factors (such as level of substance in blood or urine prior to entering the program, being HIV positive, or having a social worker who vouches for the candidate.) Effectively, this means that the people who aren't so far gone into drugs must wait until they have hit rock bottom before they can get help, unless they are wealthy enough to get a spot in a private rehab center. I have watched friends and family become incarcerated, die of overdoes, and commit suicide because they had no access to help until it was too late. I'm only 24 and I've been to three funerals of high school friends who lost hope because they saw their future would be behind bars due to drugs or dead from o.d. eventually anyway. If we won't reform drug law, we must help those battling addiction, we must help them without judgement or bias toward one addict or another.

    Besides, drug rehab and counseling focused on helping people cope with and move past the issues that cause them to use, we must provide higher education or job skill training to incarcerated and at-risk populations, particularly young men. It is desperation that drives most to crime after all, not moral deficit.
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      May 28 2012: This is commonly held beleif from within the trenches of working in the substance abuse field... however it is not supported by the research... addiction is 7th on the list of criminogenic indicators... if you work in substance abuse field you would be wise to find the studies that inform on "What Works" in rehabilitation. You will find names like Gendreau, Palmer, Cullin, Andrews, Bonta and many others.

      It is up to those working in the field to do no harm, and yet so many get into the field of substance abuse and opperate on false premise policies that harm those they intend to help, they then just say, "he needs to hit bottom" if I am a professional and know what I am doing I should be able to effect change in a positive diraction or at worse have no changing effect, yet when measured we find many programs that increase the likelyhood of the attendee's return to their prior behavior...
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        May 28 2012: I'm not currently working in "the field", but speaking on the basis of personal experience. I have watched friends who were national honor society members become prescription drug addicts and avoid treatment for fear of the stigma it would place on them. It's human nature to avoid self-incrimination, why go and admit you're a "criminal", while managing to operate in a professional environment where you would be fired the moment you admit your addiction exists. Just because "professional studies" indicate certain results doesn't mean that is a reality.

        And just because someone happens to be arrested for prostitution, theft, or assault on the record, doesn't mean that addiction wasn't the underlying cause of the crime. I'm not saying that these drugs should necessarily be legalized, but the treatment programs that currently exist leave little room for non-offenders to seek help, besides "anonymous" programs that amount to people reminiscing about using while chain-smoking and pounding coffee.(no offense to anyone who has found solace in these programs, this is again based on testimonials from close friends). I've read the academic studies in criminology and social work (one of my many fields of study), but asking people who have already been charged with crimes questions of motivation is not realistic (which most, besides snowball studies, are based on).

        Most addicts are simply directionless and hopeless about life in general. Treating them as criminals with life-long "illnesses" that they can never recover from, only hope and pray to surpass, eliminates free will from the equation.

        But perhaps I misunderstood what you were trying to communicate with your comment. As someone working in "the field":

        "What is your recommendation for helping addicts overcome their issues and re-assimilate into the general population?" (especially those who are not and have not faced criminal convictions).

        Sorry this post is a bit off topic now, but I feel it's relevant still...
  • May 11 2012: With my other post out of the way, I'll reply more directly to your question.

    You're dealing with people for whom it is being constantly re-enforced they they are sub-human by words, actions and perhaps most importantly by semiotics. You cannot argue away the bars they see in front of them every time the go to bed and every time they wake up but that is exactly what is required. If you want to help them turn their life around it means that they must reject everything they are being told about themselves and construct an impenetrable sense of self worth.

    I think the most powerful way to combat their deflated sense of self is to find a way to give them a creative and constructive outlet for their mental energy. What this should be depends on the person and it's not always going to be easy or practical to accommodate them but that's your job. Maybe it's drawing a picture, maybe it's writing a poem or an essay, maybe it's building something with their hands. If it can be somehow beneficial to the prison or society, it will have a vastly greater impact on them personally.
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    Jun 3 2012: We ignore them! I met a nineteen year old girl who had just come out of prison on a fellony drug charge and because she could not afford to have her record expunged, she could not get a job for over two years, she was only given $100 a month from the state to survive on, when she got out she was placed in large skid row half way house where she lived within restrictions like curfews, was forced to live with men and women some life time professional fellons that knew more about the system and how to abuse the system and the weaker people in it. Her room was broken into and all her clothes and belongings stolen, a month later she was beaten and raped in that same room. That's when they removed her curfews and let her stay with friends on the outside. I helped her do her resume and get a job. Took 2 and half years. She eventually started to go back to school, but her one and only felony conviction that she got at 18 haunted her every step foward until she eventually committed suicide at the age of 23. She taught me many things, but what she taught me best was that one mistake you can make as a teen... can destroy you and unless you have family to help... everyone turns their backs on you!I believe you can restore them by making them feel like they are worth something! Not throw people away that have amazing potential. She would tell me "Why are you helping me? I'm nothing!" and I'd say "You're amazing someone should've told you that all along... you're talented and smart!" I have more to say, but am out of room.... I am now working with her mother who is doing 9 years in Chowchilla... yes... her Mom and that opens a bigger convo on the creation of a Permanent Felon Class in the U.S.
  • Jun 2 2012: THE ATTITUDE WE REGARD THEM DEPOND ON THEIR OWN SITUATION some of the incarcerated person should be ignoreed ,but the others should be restored.
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      Jun 2 2012: Lee,
      How does it serve our community to ignore some of them? It costs $60,000 - $80,000 per year, per person, to keep them in jail. Is it better to continue paying that money and ignore them? Or would it be more efficient/productive for all of us to help them be contributing members of the community?

      If they are in jail for a long time and we ignore them, it is a financial drain on our economy. If they are released and we have ignored them, they often re-offend. What do you think about this?
      • Jun 3 2012: those who re-offend will be not worthy costing more to restore.under this modern political and law system which will be almostly impossible to restore them which caused Bureaucracy in Modern Society.the financial cost is unavoidable which should not be called a sort of drain.
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          Jun 3 2012: Lee,
          I believe every human being is "worthy" of a chance to be a contributing member of our communities, and I also believe we all have the opportunity to support each other in that effort. Nothing is impossible, unless we believe it to be so. I've seen enough people change their lives, so I know it is possible.

          In my perception, keeping people in jail, ignoring them, without an attempt to support them with some life changes, is simply a financial drain. It is less expensive, and more logical, reasonable, and compassionate, to "spend" our time, money and energy helping offenders to be contributing members of our world.
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          Jun 3 2012: Colleen... Not all members of society will change. The sociopath (or some call psychopath) is not changable at this time. It is rare, 1% or less of the population. those do not change and continue their behavior. Knowing who is a sociopath and who is just responding to marginilzation is key to who to rehabilitate and who to keep locked up.

          It sounds harsh, but it is neccesary to reduce the victimization and exploitation in our society. Stats show that of the offenders a small 8 to 12 % commite 70 to 80% of the crimes. getting those 8 to 12% is key to truly effecting crime control and public safety.

          We need to spend our money wisly... rehabilitate those that are rehbilitatable and incarcerate those that are not.... This is not accomplished with the three strikes law. those that respond to marginalization with criminal activity are not sociopaths, and when we return them to a marginalized life will again commite crime... so figuring out who the 8 to 12% are and incarcerating htem is important, changing society to reduce the marginalization of so many members of our very wealthy society for the rest is the long term key to truly helping the rest.
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          Jun 3 2012: Dear Edan East,
          I understand that not all members of society will change, and I have expressed that idea.

          I am aware of the "stats", and I agree with you on many counts, as I have expressed on this thread.
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    Jun 2 2012: What do you mean by "restore them back into community"?
    • Jun 4 2012: save their soul
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      Jun 4 2012: What I am talking about with "restore them back into community" is to support them in learning how to be productive, contributing members of our communities.
  • Jun 1 2012: in general most are ignored
    now all google al gore jeff fisher world peace forever
    I jeff bootstraps fisher never stop
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    May 28 2012: If statistics are correct in stating over half of all inmates are non-violent drug offenders then I think they probably did not need any rehabilitation prior to their arrest, conviction, and incarceration. When I think of rehabilitating an individual, I think of someone who has the need to learn to live without violating the rights of others, someone who has created victims through total disregard for the safety and welfare of others. As it stands, if the figures are correct, over half of the incarcerated men, women, and children in the D.O.J., D.O.C., and B.O.P. probably require treatment for post trauma stress disorders acquired at the hands of our judicial system. Bad laws have made them criminals, not their actions or behavior.
    To the other, less than half of the incarcereated population; they are there because they hurt people. Is it possible to encourage their rehabilitation?, I think it is within reason to give them a second chance, but because we are gambling with the possibility of them re-offending and hurting someone, then I believe it is even more important that we stop wasting money on the non-violent drug offenders and use those resources to furnish half-way prison/half-wayhome institutions for them when they do get out of prison. Don't throw them out on parole or a measley three to six month stay in a residential facility. if their behavior and conduct is worhty then get them out of the violence that our prisons are and get them to the half-way house where they can live up to two or three years under supervision. The system now is completely backwards, by the time most of them are released, even the ones who were not violent before they went in, there is a good chance they will be when they get out, in the least, they will have an incredible amount of change, trauma, and adjusting to do.
    They need to learn trades and have college available to them while they are in prison. You are right, Mark.
    Thanks for your concern, and service.
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      May 28 2012: OK to start you must realize that the law doesnot diferentiate between drug crimes and other crimes... they are all crimes. Next they measure offenders based on actuarial consideration of aggration, so in other words, where you come from, what color your skin, whether your parents are together... what other criminal activity whether convicted or not the suspect has been involved in.

      It is easy to start seperating out good criminals from bad criminals and using the defning line as based on some supposed comfort level to our place in society. But truth be told the majority of people in prison are men, (90+%) and the majority of those are minority, even though they do not make up the majority of the criminal acts, and the majority of those "violent" offenders you would give up on are only violent within their own neighborhood and toward their own kind and that is because we, the bigger society have turned our backs on the and left them without access to resources...

      I am just as comfortable in dealing with a 3 time felon serving time for violence as I am with the first time drug bust guy...

      Our prisons are made of of about 90% poor and about 10% sociopaths, They should be focusing on the sociopaths and finding ways to help the poor...
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        May 29 2012: what I realize, Edan, does not matter in this issue. What does matter is that 'the law', or the Judicial Branch as it is correctly referred to, doesn't make the distinction, either, just like you. However, the Constitution speaks very clearly about 'having the right to face your accuser' do you understand that this means if you have not infringed upon the rights of others, if you have no victims, then you have committed no crime and you may continue along your way in your pursuit of happiness. A criminal by definition is some one who infringes on the rights of others and that clearly excludes drug users, prostitutes, and gamblers, okay. Are we on the same page yet?

        Just because some things are illegal does not make them crimes. Bad laws make them illegal, but they are still not crimes without a victim. You must have a victim in order for it to be a crime by definition.
        You said,
        "majority of those "violent" offenders you would give up on are only violent within their own neighborhood and toward their own kind and that is because "
        where did you get the idea I want to give up on anyone? Are you just looking to argue with some one, if so, it ain't me, babe...

        I don't understand where this is going, I am missing your point, and I think you have definitely misunderstood me. I enjoy debating, sharing, and learning, but I am not going to be brought in to silly arguments.
        so long
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          May 29 2012: where I was going is... that when we start asigning personal values to criminal activities we fail to understand the issue of incarceration and the criminal justice system.

          Often I hear the argument in favor of drug offenders, so called victimless crimes. this arguement is made without true understanding of the issue.

          I would like to see a shift in our criminal justice system away from victimizing those already victimized by our failed social structure that allows some in our society to live a priviidged life and some to be barred from acces to the opportunities our society makes available becuase of the vast recources available.

          My point is very clearly... drug offenders in prison are not the problem... poverty and disenfranchisement are.
  • May 28 2012: I think every person is eligible to have a second chance and it is bilateral . The prisoner should prove that he is ready enough to be back to the society and adapt with it and the society should prepare the conditions so that the person has the self confidence and start a new life better that he had . " because every incarcerated man born , grew and come from the society itself "